Posted by: Dr Churchill | November 27, 2017

Innovation, Elon Musk, and Project Ptolemy…

Today People are angry about everything and sundry…

They are angry about Men, they are angry about Women. They are angry about the stupid Republicans, they are angry abut the evil Democrats. They are angry about this Government and the President and they are also angry about the previous Government and the previous President. And they cannot agree for any reason about anything that they can all gather to be angry about, except Government Subsidies to Corporations for R&D, or Tech project development…

Yes, people are especially angry about everything that the government does or doesn’t do. And especially about giving help to seemingly wealthy companies like Space X and TESLA and so many others in the High Tech world. And even amongst people who ought to now better, in the relevant Space rocket industry, in the Electric propulsion, and battery systems industries, and also in the solar collector industry — folks are quite angry about Elon Musk, and all of the subsidies his companies receive from the federal government, because Musk reaps hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, each and every year — often for seemingly doing nothing much of value…

It appears like lunacy and it certainly is ludicrous, because whether it’s the lucrative contracts for SpaceX from NASA, or energy rebates, and other incentives to manufacture Tesla electric sports cars, or even to help people put solar panels on their roof — somehow Elon makes the government pay through the nose, and people hate him for that. Because this practice to many Americans, in Un-American, since it smacks of corporate welfare. And because, why in the world should the federal government subsidize a product, like an electric automobile costing upwards of a Hundred Thousands Dollars? A product that few people want, and even fewer folks can well afford, and certainly nobody absolutely needs.

 

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Yet, methinks that Elon Musk’s haters, clearly miss the mark here. Hate him if you will for his Success because of your envy, but not for playing the game as it was designed to be played. Elon, knows what to do, and how to play this convoluted game called Government Business well, because he understands that the reason the US government chooses to back Elon Musk, same as we back very many other Pioneering Entrepreneurs is that his technology ventures, or his High Tech enterprises make sense for all of us. And it clearly isn’t so that the “one-percenters” can get a discount on a new Model S, but rather that all the products he makes, are the ripened fruit of the advanced research and development he undertakes regularly. And also because Elon Musk’s ideas are experimental and will very likely result in cheaper, faster, better, rockets, in cheaper, better, faster electric vehicles, and in cheaper, better, smaller, higher-capacity batteries — just to name a few of his advanced products. And please don’t get me started on my Love for all things “Space” or on the hyper loop and the savings of transportation time, or on the journey to the Red planet… that we all hope to take together.

Besides bringing on the Progress, Elon Musk also stands to become even wealthier than he is today, with every cash infusion from the Federal government, but the kind of R&D he does, results in far more gold for the country, but also for his companies, and for the consumers, and the fact that he adopts the resulting R&D technology first, is properly understood and accounted for in the system of government sponsored Innovation…

And even in the mind of the early Founders of this country, and hopefully in the mind of the people minding the People’s business today — Research and Development aren’t signs of corporate welfare, but rather the most serious investment in our common future as a People, a Nation, and an Empire.

And to continue doing this Innovation — is far more imperative now than ever, because today the United States has started lagging behind many other nations in New Tech Innovation and Pioneering Entrepreneurship. Indeed just a generation ago, the United States led the world in Semiconductors, in Medicine, on the Internet, In Space, and in the fiber-optics technologies, that fueled the speed and reach of the information revolution. Yet not many people know that the research that made those innovations possible — was all federal government funded, and unleashed first through the Academia.

So today, when China is overtaking the United States, with advances in Quantum Computing, Elementary Physics, Nuclear Fusion, Rocketry, ballistic missiles, and Renewable Energy development, while the United States of America is lagging behind in all those and many more fields of Innovation, and in many other fields of cutting-edge research — we have to look in the mirror and assign fault. Because this loss of the pole position in this ever evolving race, is in no small part up to us, since we let research and development slip away, while our international competitors have stepped it up. So today, without any question, we all see that China, not the United States, is leading the way in technological innovation. A recent KPMG tech innovation survey of 841 international technology industry leaders found that most believe Shanghai, not Silicon Valley, would lead the world in innovation by 2020.

 

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Meanwhile, China has also surpassed the United States as the leader in global patent applications. Hong Kong has been ranked as the “most economically free” place in the world for the 22nd year in a row. The United States, on the other hand, is ranked 17th, and falling. Since the 1980s, despite billions of dollars and innumerable fads passing for “reform,” the U.S. education system largely has failed in terms of preparing Americans to compete in the global market. This, at a time when China is surging forward in producing the world’s next great innovation leaders.

And, it’s not just in the science and technology fields that Chinese students are surging and besting their American counterparts — but also in the fields of social sciences and humanities. For instance, Classical education is being rediscovered in China, whereas in America is best forgotten in favor of Women Studies or getting a Doctorate in the sex lives of the Gnats. So, if you’re looking for the best young people studying and performing the music of Bach and Beethoven, like a young Mojart — they are most likely to be found in Shanghai, and not in Seattle, Portland, or San Francisco.

Historians once credited “the Maghreb” and it’s libraries along with the classical scientists and the librarians of the Libraries of Andalus and the Iberian islamic kingdoms, with “preserving” and passing-on, parts of the ancient knowledge and the heritage of the Hellenistic Scientific Western civilization during the so-called “Dark Ages” of Europe. They followed the tradition of the Library of Alexandria that was the repository of all Human Knowledge and it worked also as the University to further the study of All Things on Earth as in heaven and gave us amazing Scientific advancement until the Christian Taliban burned the place down and killed, or chased away the scientists and we went back to “The Earth is Flat” theory for a Thousand years although we knew better.

So I am afraid, that it is quite easy to regress in an age of Fundamentalism and Know Nothing, or Fake News, and maybe it will be up to China, one day to become the place where the Western Civilization gets a reprieve from extinction, and where future American children might have to go in order to learn and experience the treasures of the West, as our present day Western Civilization declines into mediocrity and obsolescence. And we best consider this scenario carefully, if we want to reverse course, because unless we start getting more competitive in the new global information and technology economy, along with the Classical scientific knowledge and the backing of the Humanities that define our Civilization — we stand to lose everything.

 

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Still no matter what — today’s investment, leads to uncertain outcomes, because the United States has consistently underfunded R&D, and thus our economy has suffered. The industries of the future all have some technological components that, if not developed fully, will hamper and hold back, the entire economy, and thus weaken our national interests, all the way from Enterprises, great and small, to ordinary businesses, and to the holy grail of national security, and global weapons superiority.

Elon Musk and others like him recognize the value of developing and testing new technologies that many today consider unnecessary, or that they haven’t even bothered to consider as potential game changers. And yet all of these technologies have dual applications. Space Rockets, Robotics, AI, autonomous space vehicles, unmanned missions to Mars, and on and on, are the first ones that come to mind immediately, and are just a few of the most visible areas where Elon pushes the envelop of progress.

Think for yourself how many other technologies fit the bill here…

The thing about innovation is that nothing is certain. Trying really does count. Ask yourself: how many people attempted to build a working flying machine before the Wright Brothers pulled it off? Did the Wright Brothers simply invent the technology from nothing, or did they build upon theories and concepts that others had tested?

Fact is, most great innovations are the result of years of trial and error. Innovation is hard to follow and, given the requirements in today’s technical world, it is an extremely onerous—and expensive—task. Yet, it is the sine qua non of a modern economy. We should be celebrating the few who have the gumption and willingness to try, not relishing in the defeat of those innovators.

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So now we have to ask ourselves, to stop worrying and learn to start loving the R&D government federal subsidies that will allow a Million new companies to blossom, and then we can philosophically discuss the use of innovation and why it is indispensable for remaining competitive in the world today — let alone for leading the world forward, and using our Empire to safeguards Western Judeo-Christian Civilization and keep the nations of this Earth in Safety, Security, Peace and Prosperity.

To do that we simply should be helping innovators whenever possible, not griping about the government subsidies going to your enterprises, because historically speaking, subsidizing successful innovations has proven to be the silver bullet for maintaining America’s overall dominance. The Chinese have no qualms about fully supporting their tech innovators—no matter how many failures those innovators may suffer before they create the next “killer app.”

Here’s another data point to consider. The nonrenewable resources of energy, such as oil, natural gas, and coal, despite their popularity today, are declining in terms of availability. This explains why Russia and ExxonMobil are racing to the inhospitable Arctic in search of new oil and natural gas fields, and if they ever can tap them fully, where do they go when these new Arctic sources have been depleted in 30 or 40 years? It’s also why Saudi Arabia is trying desperately to cut its reliance on the petro-economy by 2030. In 2015, Goldman Sachs reported that we reached peak coal, and thus far no data has arisen disproving this assessment. This also explains why China has been seriously squawking about reducing their own considerable reliance on coal, gas, and oil.

All of this indicates that the world is going to need new sources of energy outside of fossil fuels. By themselves, neither wind, nor solar, are the best and the cheapest of the many practical solutions for our Energy needs — despite what several people, including my friend Elon Musk, might argue. Small, Limited, and Cold, fusion is likely to also be in our future, along with quantum forces of Energy and high particle physics collisions, to feed our insatiable need for energy. Even if solar and wind do end up working as advertised, America will be increasingly dependent on things like electric cars. So, Tesla’s commitment to developing the electric car is a net benefit for society.

Therefore we need to support the Entrepreneurs who Innovate the new solutions, otherwise, we all lose. Because without greater direct investment in R&D, the only incentive the government can offer is in the form of subsidies and tax breaks. So whatever happens with the profitability of Tesla Motors, the research that Tesla has already done, will go a long way towards making electric cars more efficient in the years ahead. And as society moves closer toward fully embracing electric cars and renewable sources of energy, American firms might just have a decisive advantage, since groups like Tesla were experimenting with the technology before the Chinese ever took the product seriously.

Yours,
Dr Churchill

PS:

Of course Elon Musk is a Rock Star in Silicon Valley and beyond, especially amongst those of us fully vested in the Space industry — yet he is far from being our Tech Superiority savior on a National basis. For the record, after the popular outcry this summer, Elon insisted that the federal government should stop subsidizing Tesla Motors. Yet he never officially asked the US government to stop subsidizing his company. But in my mind, and despite what many people argue about corporate welfare today — Tesla’s subsidies are nothing compared to the subsidies other industries receive. Take for example the Fossil Fuel industry that is quite a mature industry and yet receives many more Billions fo Dollars than the Tech industry ever got. Nevertheless, our friend Elon Musk and many other innovators like him — if they succeed and even if they fail — will be largely responsible for keeping America competitive and perhaps dominant in the global security business of empire building, along with the tech economy globally, for the near future.

Because America isn’t going to win just because we used to win in the past, and the result of the global competition race is inevitable and rightfully ours. That logic is what sent Hillary Clinton to the outhouse instead of the White House, and is just circular logic. Winning the future means making an investment today and adapting to the new, competitive international environment, where state-owned enterprises are serious competitors for American firms, and nothing is pre-ordained. No outcome about any competitive race is ever predetermined. This country needs Elon Musk and the few others who are like him, and we need to help them remain competitive against cutthroat international opponents.

My private disclaimer is that I am also a Technological Innovator on many fronts and want to be able to remain so for the foreseeable future. Just take a look here, at the spaceship Project Ptolemy: http://www.USSPtolemy.com and let me know your thoughts…

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